A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away….
September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her?
September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?
A Fall of Marigolds is an amazingly good book – SO good that I listened to it twice this week. I did this for a number of reasons with the first being I enjoyed Susan Meissner’s storytelling immensely! Her descriptive writing amplified every sight, smell, and sound her characters perceived. The audience is privy to characters Clara Wood and Taryn Michaels eyewitness accounts of two tragedies in New York history. For me it was Taryn’s first person point of view recollection of events during the fall of the World Trade Centers that brought me to tears.
The second reason I revisited this story was due to it’s complexity. The way Meissner wove Clara and Taryn’s stories together with the marigold scarf was interesting, and by listening a second time I was able to pick up on subtleties in character dialog that foreshadowed the journey of the scarf. As a fan of historical fiction, I was intrigued by the details surrounding the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the operation of Ellis Island’s hospital. Despite the grievous losses that both Clara Wood and Taryn Michaels suffer, the book was not depressing. Instead, I found it to be an uplifting story of healing – where the main characters seem to emerge from heavy fog into a hope filled tomorrow.
Finally, for audio book listeners, the narrator Tavia Gilbert delivers an award worthy performance that really brings this story to life!! I delighted in her crisp diction as well as her effortless transition between characters. This would have been an impossible task for a less gifted narrator given the author’s choice of setting – New York and more specifically, for the historical piece, Ellis Island. Gilbert convincingly gives voice to English, Welsh, Irish, and French characters (among others). I was completely entertained – twice! Therefore, I give this audiobook 5 shiny stars.
**I received this book for free as a member of the christianaudio reviewers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
About the Author & Narrator
Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses.
Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.
She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When she is not working on a new novel, she is directing the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. She also enjoy teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with my family, music, reading great books, and traveling.
Tavia Gilbert is an award-winning narrator with 300 audiobooks under her belt. Contemporary and literary fiction, biography and memoir, fantasy, romance, children’s literature, science, religion…Tavia’s range of genres is a direct result of her intuitive interpretation, clever diction and pacing, and sensitivity to each author’s or publisher’s needs. She makes her home in Brooklyn, where she produces, directs, and narrates audiobooks and full-cast recordings.
Both of these ladies have won a new fan!
This was my first exposure to Susan Meissner’s writing and I have already begun listening to Secrets of a Charmed Life.
I’m not sure which Tavia Gilbert performance I will listen to after that. What do you think? Click here to see a selection of titles she has recorded for christianaudio and leave your vote on this post.